Rakes in the Grass ~ Hidden Triggers for Emotional Meltdowns

Rakes in the Grass ~ Hidden Triggers for Emotional Meltdowns.


I used to think that the kind of accident you see usually in cartoons
where someone steps on a rake and it springs up and hits them in the face were pure fantasy. I mean, surely no one could ever be that
stupid as to leave a rake lying around in the grass, just waiting to
be trodden upon?


By the time I’d had a garden of my own I discovered quite how easy it is to be smacked in the face or back of the head by your own gardening tools. If you’re busy trying to get through various tasks, and something happens to distract you ( a splinter, the phone, a bee, you name it), it’s all too easy to leave a rake where it falls and not
remember till you see stars and little tweeting birds round your
head. No matter how careful you are, one day it happens and then it
makes you realise that no one has immunity to the occasional accident that might have been avoided.

The same goes for those hidden triggers that are those tiny stones
falling onto a path that make people look up and go, “What is that
rumbling sound?” before half a mountain lands on them. It is
possible that with the aid of a crystal ball, you might have foreseen
this avalanche before it hit you but basically never venturing into
the mountains at all is the only way to be sure of being completely
safe. Of course I am speaking metaphorically here, just in case you
are wondering.

I should have seen the signs that I was becoming ever more fraught and taken a different route through the mountains, but I didn’t.
Sometimes the only way through is to just keep on going and that’s
what I did. But I forgot about the rakes in the grass.

A rake is a hidden something or other that we don’t see coming and yet, was there all along because in all probability we were the ones who left it there. (Not always, but that’s for another time). They are
almost always trivial in themselves but devastating as triggers for
deeper issues. I tend to think of myself as one step away from chaos
at the best of times but I also try not to think about it at all when
I feel I have no choice but to soldier on. That’s the time when I
need to watch out for the rakes most.

My personal rakes in the grass are as follows:

Criticism of something I can’t do anything about. An example of this is how I look. If someone chooses to have a pop at me for being overweight, then if the rock-slide is already poised to crash, that might be enough to shift the final few pebbles and bring down tonnes of rock. Another example is if someone criticises me for simply being me; I have my character flaws and despite all the work I have done to round off my rough edges, I remain imperfect. This is the most frustrating rake as when I am not fragile, I can just smile and let it go; when I am not, it triggers a near suicidal frame of mind.

Unfairness and injustice. Not just personal, but global. ‘Nuff said

Getting something wrong I should have got right. I hate this with a passion, because it just brings home how feeble my efforts are. Pointing it out is just going to make it worse than ever.

Pathos: something that is inherently sad or tragic, whether real or in
fiction or music, is just going to start the rocks shifting
inexorably downwards.

Pain: either sudden or chronic, doesn’t matter which, weakens my resolve to keep things buttoned down and under control.

Hormones: these chemical messengers sometimes pass on mixed or confusing messages and basically tell us lies. I have a very bad reaction to adrenaline in particular, that is both physical and emotional, which is responsible for the panic attacks and free floating anxiety.

Calling me stupid. This last one goes ludicrously deep. I hate anyone calling me stupid. Really hate it. I have no doubts when I am up that I have a high level of intelligence but when I am low, I seek
evidence and proof of it and when I see (in the light of the
depressive moods) how little I have to show for that supposed
intelligence, the slightest indication that someone else thinks me
stupid is almost inevitably going to trigger a meltdown. I feel that
I am constantly pulling a con trick on the world and the sudden
realisation that someone has twigged to my real state of IQ makes me desperate to eliminate myself from the scene ASAP.   


Now if you have ever been hit in the face with a real rake, the reaction of those around you is usually hysterical laughter, because it’s just so, well, cartoonish. How you feel may vary. Shock and pain are the first reactions, but what is going on around you changes how you can deal with those. If people are laughing, there may be a sudden surge in anger, because they are not seeing your pain. The same goes for the metaphorical rake in the face. If you are anything like me, you just want to run away and hide, because I don’t want anyone seeing the torrent of tears and explosion of rage that’s going to occur in milliseconds. 

I got a rake in the face on Monday, and there are still little birds
tweeting round my head now and I’m buried in a massive heap of fallen rock. The rake, the trigger, was something trivial and pretty
unimpressive, but the avalanche was quite spectacular. It’s going to
take a while to dig myself out and get back to normal. It’s times
like these a shovel would be some use but you’re left only with a
rake, and that’s no good, so you just drop it back into the long

For next time…… 


17 thoughts on “Rakes in the Grass ~ Hidden Triggers for Emotional Meltdowns

  1. When I was young (10ish) I used to hate having my Dad tell me to put the tools up. Then one day I did get smacked by a rake, just like a cartoon. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt, or how funny it was. Now I find I spend a lot of time picking up tools other people leave laying around. And I’ve stopped trying to point out how dangerous it is. They seem to think just leaving things wherever they used it last, half buried is just fine. Jaded, am I? Yes, jaded enough to just let people trip over themselves. But at least I don’t laugh at them. Not often.

    And I was recently called “stupid”., That person could have apologised and had it be nothing. But, they are not like like that. They are not my friend anymore. Once I can forgive eventually. But repeated insults make it just too unpleasant to deal with. She is the rake I put away and never use. Threw into the vacant lot for others to deal with.


  2. Really enjoyed this post, Viv. It’s made me think about my own rakes in the grass, and how it’s better for me to leave the gardening tools lying around for a day or two rather than rushing around letting them hit me around the head and reacting. It’s also made me think how unexpected other people’s rakes in the grass can be, and how over time you can become a little more careful with their gardening tools….


  3. great post!
    I have some of the same rakes.
    Kicking the downtrodden is a big one for me (injustice I reckon)
    Some folks are born blindfolded in a field of rakes .
    I take the shortcut through there sometime.

    have you ever read the Tolstoy story about the educated farmers son and the rake?


      • well that story is in a book somewhere around here but I cant find it.
        My son said it is only one page long.
        here is my quick version of it:

        The farmer’s son comes home from college and is told to grab a rake and come along. He replies,” What is a rake ? I am an educated man and know nothing of farming.”
        Later he is out in the yard and steps on a rake that blasts him between the eyes and cries out,” Who left this rake here?!”

        It is a favorite story of mine.


  4. Calling anyone “stupid” was outlawed by our mother. It was in the same category as “shoulds”. “You should” was the biggest misdemeanor. All big no-nos in our home. Therefore, they are like sirens when I hear them – whether applied to me or someone else.

    A rake for me is being lied to. Lies insinuate I am stupid. So they are double rakes.

    I would prefer to be far less sensitive. I watch people Magoo their way through life and I wish I could be so unseeing. Sometimes I cannot avert my eyes quickly enough, Viv. (Recalling one of your past posts.)


    • My brother used to do it a lot.
      I also hate being lied to. It’s hard when you know someone is lying but you can’t call them out on it. Or that lying by concealment thing, where someone is deliberately not telling you something they should be telling you.


  5. I have Unfairness at Injustice, Pain and mostly Hormones… and repeat after me: I’m NOT stupid, I’m NOT stupid.You’re not. Seriously. Even if you do something wrong you could have done right. Whoever calls you stupid is… stupid!
    (says the gal that cried through the last two Bollywood dramas in spite of awful English subtitles that made it hard to follow the story – but I was in tears anyway! 😉 Still, I don’t consider that a rack in my face, it makes me human… or not?)


    • I know in my head I am far from stupid, but childhood memories run deep and so it pushes that button. My boss used the word IDIOT to describe me, and it hurt disproportionately deeply.
      hugs back


  6. Pingback: The Year in Review: highs, lows, triumphs and tragedies of 2011 « Zen and the art of tightrope walking

  7. Someone posted on face book yesterday *the creative adult is the child who survived * I resonated with that just as I resonate with your words here and I have over the years experienced the panic and the self doubts, anxiety’s depressions – way too many times way too much to go into here . I’m only now bold enough at 51 to tentatively put out the creative aspect of myself *out there in blogland * , you have written books and are published proper and all that ! I have the shame of doing a creative writing module as part of a degree course and done no *real writing* ..as I just dont seem to have the guts to take it further ( hoping that will change with a new idea tentatively exploring in yet another new notebook ) So no way are you stupid or *normal* ( which is a good thing in my book) ..who wants to be bland and calm and serene all the time lol Have meant to comment here many a times, so at last I finally do, I applaud your honesty and your authenticity in your writings here . I know that takes vast amounts of courage to open up parts of our selves and lives this way and I am sure helps other people look into there selves and lives and feel less alone, doubtful and more aware of those rakes in the grass among other things .. take care 🙂 @moontiger_


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